Saturday, May 20, 2006

From major terrorist to progressive Muslim?

Saturday morning TV isn't really well known for being inspiring, or even remotely interesting. Zapping past a multitude of children's cartoons and Infomercials I stumbled upon airtime for the "Nederlandse Islamitische Omroep" (Dutch Islamic Broadcast-association). Saturday mornings are usually the time small Broadcast organisations get a chance to some airtime on 1 of the 3 state-tv stations (also Hindu, Frysian, etc.). In general I do find it interesting to watch and see what lives in the minds of these other communities living in The Netherlands, so I watched for a while.

One piece they showed actually seemed to be very promising for the Muslim community. A former Muslim Fundamentalist Leader that has now become a fighter for women's rights and a much more liberal interpretation of the Koran; Hassan al-Turabi. In an interview by phone he explained that the Koran does not state women need to wear anything to cover their hair, face or entire bodies. That in fact in the time of Mohammed women did not dress like that either. The only references he directly found where for women to cover up their breasts. He also mentioned that the Koran wants women to be free, and responsible individuals. Not owned by men. Overall I found his views to be very hopeful in bringing some enlightenment to the more radical Muslim faith. So I googled him...

And this caused some confusion with me. "former Muslim Fundamentalist" does not do the man credit. It's far and far worse apparently! This is the man who founded various extremist Muslim groups, the personal tutor to al Qaeda's second in command Al-Zawahiri and personal friend to Bin Laden! There are also claims he is linked to some of the terror-groups doing ethnic cleansing in Darfur. In short, all information found on this man on the world wide web does not paint a very warm, inspiring picture of this man.

I also don't know enough about the subject if this man has truly seen the error of his ways and is now inspiring his people to become more sensible, or if it's just a mask, a play he puts on. What is however certain is that it's interesting to look at these developments and the history of Islam, terrorism beyond just the usual suspects. If he is genuine, can more extremists see the error of their ways?

Al-Turabi's website | Article on women in Islam (PDF)
Turabi as Islamic Extremist


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